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NINI Approved: Ilk + Ernie

NINI approved

Fashion is under the spotlight these days and rightfully so.

Fast fashion is a burden upon our beautiful planet, creating pollution, masses of waste, poor working conditions, and products that don't last - it's carbon footprint hell!

We met Jess, creator of Brighton based Independent Ethical fashion label Ilk + Ernie, after spending some time down in our favourite spot on the south coast.

We instantly fell in love with her unique styles, ethical approach, and female empowerment vibes that make her little brand so festive!

Jess founder of Ilk & Ernie

We caught up with Jess to get know a little more about her beautiful brand:

Tell us all about the gorgeous garments you make - what inspires the style?

I used to collect a lot of vintage clothing, 60's & 70's stuff that I needed to alter and I always really loved the patterns and styles. Music has also always been an inspiration, in fact one of my first jump suits was inspired by what David Bowie wore.

Taking vintage, iconic music outfits, and dead stock fabric helped me create designs that set Ilk & Ernie's ethos apart.


Girl in Ilk and ernie dress

How did Ilk + Ernie begin?

I worked in fashion for 6 years in London and never really found my place. I was once told I was too nice! It wasn't an environment I enjoyed which was a real shame as I'm so passionate about fashion and the empowerment you can feel from finding your style.

So I left the industry and worked as a PA for a bit and just hated that too!

One day I decided to book a one way flight to India with the idea of finding inspiration for designing clothes again.

India was an incredible experience and became a hugely important part of my life. After 4 months It led me to meet Sam who runs the factory I now work with, I was also introduced to a huge market in Delhi that sells all the "dead stock" fabric (fabric left over from bigger corporations that just gets thrown out) that all Ilk & Ernie clothes are produced from.

What separates Ilk + Ernie from other ethical brands?

When I first started 4 years ago, ethical fashion had a boring stigma attached to it, the designs were bland and it felt like to be ethical meant you couldn't be stylish or fun. 

The designs I create have sustainability and ethics at their core but are what women want to be wearing, and don't sacrifice style!

We are ethically sourced and produced, giving girls a chance to buy into something that's good for the planet not just their wardrobe.

Women with mega phone

What made you source your fabric this way?

I didn't actually know about dead stock until I got to Delhi and spent time meeting people and developing my concept.

When I found out about a Delhi market that was full of left over waste fabrics it made sense to check it out - some of the fabrics were just amazing!

Ever since I've been going back each year to trawl through this dead stock, it's an amazing and inspirational experience.

Where are your garments made and who makes them?

They are made in Delhi by Sam and his team of talented workers.

Sam's factory is  Sedex certified, meaning it adheres to ethical and responsible practices in the way it operates and treats its staff.

Sam & Jess

How many of each piece do you make?

As many as I can out of the fabric I find. Sometimes that's not many, and one of the most beautiful things about Ilk + Ernie is that each piece you buy is one of very few, and we'll never be able to make it again due to the fabric being sourced from dead stock the way it is.

Do you think fashion is changing quickly enough?

There's been a huge shift of peoples mindset and understanding in the past few years. 4 years ago when I started, it didn't mean so much, but in the last 2 years I've seen a big shift in peoples opinions and how they seem to be buying more responsibly.

People are waking up to the planet and how much we are damaging it, it's a good thing.

In my opinion, If you work in fashion you have an obligation to change the way it works and move away from fast fashion that's causing so much damage to the planet.

Ilk and Ernie


What's your dream for Ilk + Ernie?

I'd love to see a future where people are changing the way they shop and that fast fashion ceases to exist.  Buy vintage, buy from truly ethical brands, repair stuff, It's something we refer to as the Conscious Fashion Revolution and we're hugely passionate about it.

I'd love Ilk + Ernie to be at the heart of keeping that movement rolling and see support for small ethical brands like ours grow.

I'd also love to open a shop so people can come and see and try on our wonderful clothes and meet us in person!

Ilk + Ernie are currently crowdfunding, support ethical fashion by buying one of their wonderful rewards here.



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